[HNW] class on researching mistakes

Christina L Biles bilescl at okstate.edu
Wed Apr 23 11:53:28 PDT 2003

Charlene said:
>>>What I'd like is suggestions of mistakes people commonly make in
doing research.  What sorts of things would you like to see included in
such a class?

A common mistake I've seen in application of research is a
time/place/object mismatch.   Some people do careful research for the
stitch/motif, but apply it to something "wrong."    That might be
wonderfully done celtic knotwork on a fifteenth century French gown, late
sixteenth/early seventeenth century styles of blackwork on a fourteenth
century gown, or  assuming that any form of needlework/handwork found on
household furnishings must also have been used on clothing.

A common mistake in research thinking is that all sources are created
equal.  For instance, an article in House Beautiful must be equal in
scholarship to an article printed in Speculum, after all, they are both in
print.    OR, that recent sources are automatically better/more correct
than older sources.  If Arnold contradicts Linthicum, is Arnold
automatically correct?

A common mistake in research practice is ignoring journals.  The standard
uneducated researcher looks in the library catalog.  If it isn't there
(under a heading they think to look under), then they cannot find any
information of the subject.   A slightly more educated researcher knows
the name of a book or two that someone has suggested, maybe over a list
like this one, or a friend, or whatever.   Most undergraduates never think
to look in journals for information.  In fact, neither do many graduate
students.   Electronic bias is a major, major problem that is getting
worse every day.  For instance, we have the Art Index online.  IF the
researcher thinks to look there, he or she will find results back to 1984.
  Articles detailing the burial of the so-called Queen Arnegunde date to
the 60s, and won't show up in a search.

Another mistake I often see is forgetting to look in tangential books. For
instance, it is difficult to find clothing information for Hungarian
clothing (that isn't semi-modern folkloric).   I found a book about
Hungary on our shelves  (_Information Hungary_ edited by Ferenc Erdei). On
page 203, we have a woodcut from a contemporary newssheet of one of the
"crusaders of Gyorgy Dozsa," who was the leader of the peasant war of
1514.    King Louis I (1342-1382) is illustrated in a striped cote on page
191.   There are just tons of woodcuts & pictures in this book - but you
won't find it in either the clothing or the history section of your
library.   We classify the book under Geography & Travel.

What sorts of things would I like to see included?
*How to follow a citation trail.   Indexes, databases, and catalogs are
wonderful, but sometimes the best way to find information is to check an
author's sources.
*How ILL works.  If it isn't in your library, how can you get it?   How
does ILL work, and what are it's limitations?


As a side note, I found a couple of random interesting articles in Art
The "Fantastical Motion" of Female Imagination: The Rocky Pool Motif in
Seventeenth- Century Raised-Work Embroideries.
Source: Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts v. 75 no2 (2001) p.

Luxuriant crowns: Victorian men's smoking caps, 1850-1890.
Source: Dress v. 27 (2000) p. 9-17

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